February 23-- State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia reports on that past week in the Georgia Senate.
This week in the Senate we heard 19 pieces of legislation on the floor. Our days were filled with long mornings in chamber and longer afternoons in committee meetings. We are working harder than ever, as evidenced by the number of bills that passed on the floor this week.
Some of the most exciting legislation to come before the General Assembly in a long time, House Bill 918, was introduced earlier this week and passed in the House. You may have heard of this legislation because it would reduce the top income tax percentage from 6 percent to 5.75 percent in 2019 and 5.5 percent in 2020. In addition to this, it would also double the standard deduction from $3,000 to $6,000. This bill is now in the Senate for consideration and I look forward to seeing it pass our chamber and being brought to the governor for his signature.
This is great news for all Georgians. Not only are we lowering taxes for everyone, but we are also maintaining a balanced budget. The reason this was able to happen was a result of the tax cuts on the federal level and because of our leader’s foresight to realize that if we didn’t lower taxes now, we could inadvertently be paying more in taxes in the future. I am happy to support this bill and look forward to allowing Georgians to keep more of their money in their pockets. This bill represents just the beginning for tax cuts for Georgians as we hope to continue to find other ways to reduce government’s burden on your pockets while still providing you with the best state in which to live, work and raise a family.
Another bill that I know many from our district will be happy to hear about is the rural broadband bill, SB 402, which passed on the Senate floor on Friday and is also known as the “Achieving Connectivity Everywhere Act”. The bill proposes ‘renting out’ the right of ways on interstates to lay fiber optic cables. These cables would bring internet access to areas of our state that don’t currently have the reliable and speedy internet those in more populated areas enjoy. This broadband bill also has the potential to bring in $50 to $100 million in revenue from the renting out the right-of-ways along our interstates, so it also represents a positive financial investment for our state.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you. Next week will be one of the busiest weeks yet in the Senate as we already have 29 pieces of legislation set for Monday. We still have the General FY 2019 Budget to pass and the income tax cut package, but we hope to get those done in the next few weeks. Let me know if there are any questions or concerns you have about this legislation. I’m more than happy to talk to you about bills you find important.